The Red Barn in Grand Rapids was Grand Rapids' only full-nude club prior to the ordinance.
Deja Vu in Kalamazoo no longer has nudity.
On New Years Eve, I had many options on what to
do that day.
I could have gone to
downtown Grand Rapids and listen to shitty emo-pop brought to us by
Citadel Broadcasting and Amway with 35,000 people. Hell, I
could have gone to a bar in Eastown and get hit on by Eddie the Big
But instead, I said
goodbye to an old friend, and hopefully, it's for now.
2011 so far has been
a dream for right-wingers, teabaggers and Republicans, especially
since Rick Snyder is now our governor. It's expected that Michigan
will start to see a huge resurgence in jobs thanks to *GASP* former
Governor Jennifer Granholm and President Obama, but let's watch
Snyder fuck it all up again.
Now, another Jebus
freak dream has come true: the Deja Vu strip club in Kalamazoo has
been demoted to a bikini club.
on New Years Day, the Vu can no longer feature full-frontal nudity
because of an agreement with the city that was made several years
ago. I visited the club that night and it was still full-nude up
until about 11:30. At 11:20, the DJ asked all available girls to
come to the dressing room upstairs and at 11:30, the girls started
to appear with pasties on their nipples. At midnight, the last
bottomless dance was made on-stage and afterward, it was pasties and
I left at 12:05 and
told the people walking into the club "welcome to Nazi Germany" as I
walked out to my car.
The news media
couldn't get any comments from the club, although some dancers did
tell them that they would cover up. Under the new law, anybody who
shows an ounce of skin will be charged with a misdemeanor with a
$500 fine and up to 90 days in jail.
Well, since I'm a
blogger and not part of the news media, I did talk to a few girls.
Some of them told me that the management told them that they're
hoping that the law will only be temporary due to loopholes. One
told me that she feels that the law discriminates against women with
small breasts since their neither regions make up for what's up
there. One even told me that chances are that Deja Vu may consider
moving to another town close to Kalamazoo where the rules aren't as
The saga began in
the early 2000's when the Vu was originally located close to
downtown in Washington Square. The building was an old adult
theatre called Cinema X and was converted into a strip club in
the 1980's. It eventually became a Deja Vu. However, the building
was starting to show its age and was small comparing to other Deja
Vu locations. So, the club's owners asked the city if they could
move the club to an old restaurant building next to the Wings
Stadium hockey arena. Needless to say, the two sides went back and
Eventually, the Vu's
owners had another plan: buy out another club, and they did. They
bought out the old Mermaid Lounge - a topless club that served
alcohol - and moved into their old building, which was quite large.
One side was the Mermaid, the other being the Vu with a shop selling
adult toys and novelties in the middle. But, the company wanted a
newer, nicer and more-upscale building for the clubs. The city
agreed, but on one major term: on January 1st, 2011 at midnight, the
city would pass an ordinance that banned full-nudity.
Sadly, the club's
owners didn't fight the city and it was business as usual for six
years. Like I said, one dancer claimed that the club's lawyers would
find a loophole, but good luck. The strip club owners of Grand
Rapids had been trying to fight the city regarding the same
ordinance since 2006 with no results. Even the city mayor, George
Heartwell, who's also an ordained minister, said in an interview
that there's no link between strip clubs and violence.
Right now, in all of
west Michigan, there's only one strip club with full nudity, and
it's Muskegon's Odyssey. From what I've heard, that club is, well,
something else (and despite what people think about me, I've only
been to a small handful of clubs, and the Odyssey's not one of
'em.). Otherwise, it's a 65-mile drive for anybody from Grand Rapids
(or 75 miles from Kalamazoo) to the Deja Vu in Lansing.
One of the people who
pushed to bring this law into reality is the butta-faced bitch you
see above, 44-year-old Kalamazoo County Treasurer Mary Balkema. She
used to be a city commissioner and pushed the ordinance into law.
She told local NBC affiliate WOOD-TV "we legislate morality every
day. For instance, we say do not kill and if you kill, we will
prosecute you to the full extent of the law." Basically, she
compared nudity to murder. Oh, please. She even told a reporter that
the main reason for the ordinance is to "protect families and
children".... FROM WHAT?!?
Mind you, this is
the same Mary Balkema who pushed to get voters of the city of
Kalamazoo to vote no on a proposal that would give homosexuals
living in the city special benefits back in 2009. She even passed anti-gay flyers all throughout
the city. Thankfully, the bill passed,
proving how STUPID Balkema is.
Balkema seems to be
wanting to become the city's nudity czar; she even told WOOD-TV that
she wanted to come to Deja Vu after midnight to make sure that the
laws were complied with. So far, law enforcement has said that they
haven't heard any complaints since the law was enforced.
Balkema is a
Republican (duh), and serves on several boards including the
Kalamazoo Gospel Mission and the Boy Scouts. She's also one of the
Board of Directors of the Kalamazoo County Land Bank. She's
apparently the owner of Balkema Construction, which is located on
1131 Whites Road, Kalamazoo, MI 49008 (go ahead and
send out porno mag subscriptions to her).
Folks, when was the last time LOOKING at a woman's private
parts killed somebody? Idiots with guns kill people everyday but the
gun stores that sell them the guns remain open. This isn't about
"protecting children", this is about Republicans and Jebus freaks
trying to make you bow to them. Remember, this law was passed during
the Bush administration when this country thought that he was doing
one heckuva job. Sadly, this job will force the women who work there
to find (likely) worse jobs that will hardly pay their rent. It
should be up to a woman if she wants to expose herself to another
man, not a group of unliberating
Remember folks, here in Grand Rapids, two bars have shut down
in recent years - Margarita Grill and Tap's - due to murders outside
their clubs. Hell, last year while I was at Mulligan's, a black man
named Eddie tried to extort sex from me, even though I constantly
refused. Not to mention, a prostitute tried to extort sex from me
also last year in front of the Meanwhile Lounge. Yet, these two bars
still remain open. I've been to Deja Vu in Kalamazoo many times, and
NOT ONCE have I seen one fight, or have had a dancer beg me for sex.
It's a classy operation where people behave and had fun prior to the
Here's an idea to Deja Vu's owners: how about moving to an
area between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids? How about near the Gun Lake
Casino? If they can accept gambling there, then nudity shouldn't
have to be a major problem. There's probably a few small towns in
that area that are struggling to survive, and having a strip club
wouldn't be that much of a problem. Just a
But until then, thanks, Kalamazoo. I no longer have any
reason to visit your
Court upholds Grand Rapids strip club ordinance
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A federal appeals court ruled that
the City of Grand Rapids 2006 ordinance limiting nudity and
activities at strip clubs is constitutional. However, the appeals
court sided with the owners of the clubs in a fight over attorney
fees. A lower court ordered the clubs to pay fees for a group of
private citizens who helped fund the city's defense. The appeals
court overturned that decision, and the clubs do not have to pay the
private group's fees.
USA Court of Appeals to hear Strip Club v. Grand Rapids
GRAND RAPIDS -- The United States Court of Appeals will hear arguments on the case of Sensations v. the City of Grand Rapids, over comments Mayor George Heartwell made in an article.Mark London, the owner of Sensations and Lady Godiva's, says the city is depriving residents of their constitutional rights after a new strip club ordinance was passed in August of 2006. London lost the case in Federal Court in October of 2006. But now his appeal will have its day in court.The city ordinance in question bans nude dancing, and requires dancers to maintain at least a six foot distance from patrons.But London says his main issue with the case is remarks Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell made in a March 2006 issue of the Grand Rapids Business Journal. London refers to a paragraph in which Heartwell is credited with saying that he could not find any negative impact on neighborhoods from area strip clubs, an argument that was the basis of the 2006 ordinance.A Federal Appeals Court in Cincinnati has agreed to hear the case next Wednesday.Each side will get 15 minutes to argue its case.The owner of The Little Red Barn is also listed as a plaintiff in the suit.
WOOD-TV Grand Rapids
WHO IS ROB BELL AND WHAT'S HIS PROBLEM?
Well, it's been a full year since I've updated this section of the site. All of Grand Rapids' clubs are still suffering under the totalitarian BS created by morons such as Judy Rose and Judge Robert Holmes Bell, and even worse of all, the city's economy is much worse as well. Oh yeah, gangs are more rampant, too. Way to go, righties! Your plan to destroy the city's working.
I couldn't help but to read about Judge Holmes' son, Rob Bell. The younger Bell is called by many as "The Next Billy Graham" because of his way of preaching. He's attempting to reach a younger audience by preaching in a way that teaches that not all of life's answers are read in the Bible, yet, in life itself.
Bell was born in 1970, and his household was unabashedly Christian, which was probably why his Dad allowed Grand Rapids to virtually ban strip clubs. His home was quite wealthy, too, and Daddy helped little Robbie into Illinois' Wheaton College. There, Bell received his bachelors degree and met his wife, Kristin. He later attended Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, where he got his certificate to preach.
Bell was the lead singer of two Christian rock bands in the 90's: _ton bundle and Big Fil, which had local success.
In the late 90's, Bell and his wife handled the Saturday night services at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids. In 1998, Bell shocked the church crowd when he announced that he was creating his own church. It was named Mars Hill, after the place where the apostle Paul told a group of followers: "For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you." Mars Hill's first site was a high school gym in nearby Wyoming, but the church became an official megachurch when the owners of a failed shopping mall in nearby Jenison donated the site to Bell. The Grand Village Mall - which became a 'dead mall' in the 90's after its anchor, Witmark went bankrupt - was converted into a 3,500-grey seat megachurch whose three Sunday services now total 11,000 people per week.
It should also be noted that Bell ain't hurting financially. Mars Hill makes $6 million per year and his two books, 2005's Velvet Elvis and this year's Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections between Sexuality and Spirituality - both published by Rupert Murdoch's Zondervan Publishing - are both best-sellers. He appears on several instructional videos called "NOOMA" and is notorious for his "Love Wins" bumper stickers seen throughout town. Right now, he's touring the country on the "Gods Aren't Angry" tour, teaching people on how humans created religion to make themselves feel better. However, it should be noted that Mars Hill claims on their website that they made about $80,000 less than last year. Maybe it's because of 1) Michigan's slumping economy, 2) the fact that Bell made headlines by canceling the church's Sunday services on Christmas, 2005 and 3) his church preaches about the dangers of porn.
Rob's mall-turned-megachurch happens to be good buddies with XXXChurch.com, a website designed to teach young people about the so-called dangers of porn. Founder Craig Gross is notorious for his debates with Ron Jeremy, and goes cross-country with him. As a matter of fact, on November 10, Mars Hill's having a "Porn and Pancakes" breakfast where they will speak to men on how in their minds, porn is a sin and will take them on that nasty 'ol Highway to Hell. XXXChurch is owned by Fireproof Ministries, which is based here in the town Bell lovingly calls "G-Rap".
You see, I love it how when churches preach about how porn is one of the biggest entertainment industries in the world, yet, religion makes a hell of a lot more money. People like Bell get to live comfortably while people who work 60 hours per week are living paycheck to paycheck. I've been to church and I've been to the strip club. For me, I like the strip club better. In my life, I found out that the worst people out there are those who act like goody-two-shoed Christians. They're backstabbers and judge you for who you are. They lie about you and damn you for doing something in their eyes that offends them. Strippers, on the other hand, don't necessarily judge their customers; just give 'em a $20 and they'll love you even more.
True, both churches and strip clubs beg people for money nonstop. However, unlike preachers, many strippers have something called debt. Most strippers are college girls who have the option of either balancing three fast food jobs - causing them to miss their loan payments and causing them to not study, forcing them to drop out of school - or just work at the strip joint a few days a week, make over $100 per day and live their lives more conveniently. The average preacher is well-off financially and they only work one day per week. Go figure.
It's people like Rob Bell that make me proud that I support clubs such as Deja Vu and Fantasy's in Traverse City because if his goody-two-shoes "Hey! I'm rich because of Jesus!" philosophy. Jesus never lived in a mansion. He also never drove a Lexus and was also every known race to man, not just white. The moral of the story, I guess is that in my eyes - and some may/may not agree with me - God's more visible in a stripper than in a preacher who begs his people for money every five minutes even though we're the lowest-paid in 50 years thanks to a president they support. I have a sad feeling that the church is NOT run in God's eyes, but under *ahem* somebody else's...
Maybe Rob oughta read 1 Timothy 6:7-10. If he is the next Billy Graham, we're doomed.
UPDATE: RED BARN BACK TO FULL-NUDITY
Last week, Herb Newhouse, the owner of the Red Barn Theatre here in Grand Rapids, said that he is going to fight the city's strip club ordinance by going back to full nudity. This is after he revealed that he's now losing $2,000 per day. He says that if it costs him $500/day to have nudity, so let it be.
The law, on the other hand, is yet to be overturned.
A PERSONAL LETTER TO JUDGE ROBERT HOLMES BELL, JUDY ROSE AND ALL SUPPORTERS OF GRAND RAPIDS' ANTI-STRIP CLUB LAWS:
What a difference just a few months makes. It didn't seem too long ago that I could walk into one of the city's strip clubs and watch a beautiful woman unclothe before my eyes. Now, her breasts must be covered with uncomfortable pasties and I must remain a humongous distance from her at all times. And why is it? It's because of hate-filled Nazis like you Judy Rose, who can't clean up your own community from crime and corruption, so you use the strip clubs as a distraction, and it's lazy judges like you, Robert Bell, who put religion over constitution. You people need to feel shame, not me.
I work a second shift job, 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. This past summer (and still), I've been working until 1 a.m. in the morning, depending on the volume of the work needed. Am I happy? Not always, but I'm lucky to even have a job in these trying times created by
dumbfounded Republicans like George W. Bush and Dick DeVos. I haven't seen a raise at my current job in three years, and I see prices of everything rise before my eyes. Yes, I can find another job in a jif, but it ain't gonna happen soon with the economy the way it is. So, for now, I'm stuck on 2nd shift with no life.
Because of my hefty work schedule, I have no time for a woman. I do want one, and I do look, but it's tough. Every time I go out to a public place, all the girls I see are with other guys. I'm a fifth wheel. Thankfully, there's a place where women are actually *paid* to like you, and that's the strip clubs. I've been going to the Deja Vu in Kalamazoo for five years now, and it's nowhere near considered a "dump" or a "hole".
Say whatever you guys want about strip clubs: "oh, the guys are greasy!", "the women are all whores!", "that guy over there's going to rape somebody when he leaves!" The truth is, it's as stereotypical as blacks are to fried chicken. People who go to strip clubs are generally nice people, and many of them, surprise, surprise, bring their wives and girlfriends. Plus, I swear to God, I've NEVER seen any prostitution outside a strip club.
Ever been to Canada? The strip clubs there are a lot raunchier than the ones we have here in Michigan. There's full nudity, alcohol's served at all times, and the women can rub their bare privates on your lap. Oh, yeah! I almost forgot to mention that Canada HARDLY has ANY crime! You should see Bowling For Columbine some time. People don't even lock their doors there. This is proof that strip clubs CAN reduce crime. Give a sexually-repressed man a naked woman and the rape numbers go down.
Look, you're basically just letting not just the people of Grand Rapids down, but the owners too. Sure, you think of Herb Newhouse and Mark London as smut peddlers, but the truth is, they're businessmen who pay thousands of dollars in taxes every year, which is supposed to help the city. Also, because of jerks like you, people like Hugh Hefner, Larry Flynt, Pee-Wee Herman, Robert Maplethorpe and the like are all immortals just because they did something 'sexual' and were chastised doing it. Riddle me this: how's Ed Meese doing nowadays?
As for you, Judge Bell, ever heard of the CONSTITUTION? It protects strip clubs, too. However, you end up putting your version of Jesus in front of everything else (I take it that your Jesus is white... Figures) and it causes you to not think straight. You probably think that the framers of the Constitution were all holier-than-thou Christians, right? Wrong. They were partiers who also owned and raped their slaves. Gee! What a great example to show our kids! The true founders of America were the Native Americans, and there's no doubt in my mind that they should open as many casinos as they want to. Also, I want to congratulate your son on owning such a successful church in Grandville, which like most mega-churches, is too big for their own good and in an abandoned mall. Say, how many cars does he own? Three? Four? How much of his income goes into taxes? Figures.
Anywhat, I hope that smile disappears from your faces quite soon, when it's discovered that the laws you've allowed to pass are unconstitutional, and that the owners of the clubs will hopefully sue you for ruining their businesses. It's your Bush-style politics that are forcing over 100 people to find other jobs or to see garnished wages. Many of these women want a bright future, and you're destroying them... FOR WHAT?!?
It's people like you that make me want to go to the strip club even more; not to mention, vote Democrat this next election. By then, it will suck to be you.
One more thing: if you're wondering what I do for a living, I'll give you a clue: it's a product that's very likely in your home. See? No matter what you spend your money on, you're supporting a few happy strippers.
UPDATED 8.27.06 - It's official: stripping in Grand Rapids is now illegal. On Thursday, District Judge Robert Holmes Bell ruled that Grand Rapids could go ahead and ban nude dancing as of this past Saturday night at 12:01 a.m. Under the new law, dancers must wear G-strings and pasties and must remain six feet away from patrons. Therefore, tipping's no longer allowed, and so are lap dances. According to Mark London, he'll continue to run Sensations as a regular business with no stripping. As for Herb Newhouse, all he'll say is that he'll still run the Red Barn, but for $10, you can figure out what you'll get with that money.
The owners will take the case to higher courts until justice is served. But for now, folks, Kalamazoo's where the action is...
Ahhh, the great American strip club. For centuries, people have gone to strip clubs, burlesque houses, or whatever they were called back in the day to see those forbidden bits of females not intended to be seen by the male eye.... Or is it indeed intended?
Under the First Amendment, women are indeed allowed to show a man their feelings of eroticism by method of undress. However, some don't feel that way. Some believe that the only nudity people should see is in marriage, and they feel that sex should only be used to procreate. Sadly, Grand Rapids may soon be an example.
On Tuesday, April 25, 2006, the city of Grand Rapids passed an ordinance forcing the city's three strip clubs - Parkway Tropics, Sensations and Red Barn, the latter being the sole full-nude club - to ban all nudity and dancers must be six feet away from patrons. That's right: no boobs, no lap dances and no tipping the dancers.
Herb Newhouse, who's owned the Red Barn since 1972, says that he has over 50 employees with 17 of them going to college. It's proven that a good stripper can make good money, and since some of them make good money in such a short time, it creates more time for themselves to study and pay off bills. Newhouse is now suing the city of Grand Rapids, claiming that they're trying to shut a legitimate businessman like himself down, plus he, and several strip club patrons all claim that the ordinance is unconstitutional. Another strip club owner, Mark London of the soon-to-be Showgirls Galleria in downtown, is planning a similar suit.
One reason why the law was passed was because a citizens group, the Black Hills Citizens for a Better Community, raised over $100,000 to challenge the law. The group is headed by Judy Rose, an old lady who is skinny and has short gray hair, plus the fact that she looks like she hasn't had sex in over 30 years. After hearing about the laws
uits brought on by the strip club owners, Rose raised another $90,000 by pay for the city's lawyer bills so the people of Grand Rapids won't have to pay higher taxes. Rose won't reveal where she's getting her funding, though many believe that right-winged organizations are behind the funding.
After the passing of the ordinance, Rose basically told the strippers of Grand Rapids to 'find better jobs'. The statement proves Rose's utter ignorance towards the adult entertainment industry and its patrons. With the economy the way it is right now, working as a dancer still pays the bills. However, in this competitive world of low job openings and businesses moving to other countries, losing a job as a stripper is nothing short of devastating. We should also point out that Rose is a staunch supporter of gubernatorial candidate and former Amway chairman Dick DeVos (R) "for all the right reasons" according to his website. It's proven that DeVos supports outsourcing and other ways for businesses to cut back on employees, leaving many jobless. Since Rose is retired, it proves how self-centered she is.
It's also worth telling that the citizens group doesn't do anything to improve their own community. According to www.cridata.com, the Black Hills neighborhood is one of the worst in Grand Rapids, with high rates of burglary, assault and murders. Since there's hardly any strip clubs in that neighborhood - both Red Barn and Sensations are on the city's east side - it's unfair to say that the strip clubs contribute to THEIR problems. There's no proof that strip clubs contribute to crime. As a matter of fact, up in Canada, where the strippers get totally nude, touch patrons with their privates and serve alcohol to 18-year-olds, there's hardly any crime. The strip club laws in Grand Rapids were created since the city has major financial problems and the city could use Rose's money, plus so people's attentions could be taken away from the problems the Black Hills neighborhood has. In the long run, the ordinance will hurt Grand Rapids as people will drive to Kalamazoo and Battle Creek to go to their clubs, taking money away from the city in business and taxes.
We should also point out that Kalamazoo - which has a full-nude club, Deja Vu - has a similar ordinance, but is not enforced. Battle Creek has designated areas for clubs.
As a community, we should stand up to people like Judy Rose and piss her off by going to the threatened clubs as much as possible before the city enforces the rules, which could take months. Not only does supporting the adult entertainment industry piss right-wingers off and give you a boner, it helps protect the most valuable thing in American history: THE FIRST AMENDMENT.
Here's some club info 4 ya...
814 Lake Michigan Dr NW
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
-topless bar, minimum age 18; WARNING: features male nude dancers Saturday nights.
*Red Barn Adult Theatre
928 28th Street SE
28th Street, East Of Eastern Ave
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
-full nudity, min age 18
3525 E Mall Dr SE
28th St & E Beltline
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
-topless, min age 21